Prelate of Aleppo Briefs Western United States Community on the Latest Developments in Syria

On the evening of Wednesday, October 15, 2014, over 600 community members gathered at St. Mary’s Church in Glendale to hear the briefing of H.E. Archbishop Shahan Sarkissian, Prelate of Aleppo, on the latest developments in Syria.

The forum was held under the auspices of the leaders of the Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, and Evangelical Churches. It was organized jointly by the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund (SARF) and the Alumni Associations of Syrian-Armenian Schools.

The evening began with welcoming remarks by Master of Ceremonies Mrs. Knar Kortoshian, who highlighted the role of the Armenian communities in Syria before and especially after the Genocide as the bastion of our national identity, the cradle of our rebirth, like a mighty oak tree whose branches spread across the Diaspora and contributed to the formation of communities worldwide. On behalf of the guests she welcomed the Prelate of Aleppo with the assurance that our community would continue to heed the call of our Syrian-Armenian brethren.

Videos were shown to give attendees a first-hand view on the situation in Syria. The first of these focused on the Armenian neighborhoods in Aleppo.

On behalf of the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund, Vice-Chair Mr. Raffi Kendirjian gave an overview of the organization’s endeavors, assuring the Prelate that the work would continue with greater drive.

The cultural program featured recitations and violin performances by two students who had recently relocated to Los Angeles from Aleppo, Araz Balian and Nanor Seraydarian

The second video focused on Armenian Schools in Aleppo. Guests were inspired by the optimism and hopefulness of the young students, who continue to attend school under very challenging circumstances.

Rev. Tovmas Garabedian, representing the Catholic Church, and Rev. Henrik Shahnazarian, representing the Evangelical Church, expressed their solidarity and readiness to lend any support needed to ensure that the schools remain open.

H.E. Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, conveyed his greetings to the Prelates, reaffirmed the support of his community, and lauded Archbishop Sarkissian’s heroic leadership in a crisis situation.

The third and final video showed the recent celebration of the Feast of the Holy Translators in Aleppo. In spite of unsafe circumstances, hundreds of students and their parents had gathered to participate in Divine Liturgy and celebrate our heritage. The video embodied beautifully the immense love for our culture and the community’s strong will to persevere.

Archbishop Shahan Sarkissian was then invited to deliver his address, which focused on the needs of Armenian Schools in Syria. On behalf of his community, the Prelate expressed gratitude to all the organizations and individuals who have contributed to the relief efforts thus far, stating that the people appreciate and praise God for all that is provided. What concerns them most, he said, is not physical nourishment, rather the intellectual nourishment of the youth. Referring to the kind remark by Archbishop Derderian, the Prelate stated that the source of courage is the Syrian-Armenian people, who courageously and determinedly keep going, keep persevering, owing to their unshakable unity. The Prelate concluded by calling on the community to rally to keep the backbone of the Armenian people, the Armenian school, strong, because it is the Armenian School that keeps us Armenian, he said.

The program concluded with the message of H.E. Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate. His Eminence welcomed Archbishop Sarkissian, commended the event organizers and attendees and the dedication of SARF and all those who have lent their valuable support over the past few years. He urged the continuance of support, especially for the Schools and students, who are in most dire need. Giving does not harm us, said the Prelate, it only makes us richer, and it is pleasing to God. In conclusion, His Eminence once again affirmed the staunch support and solidarity of our community to the Armenian community in Syria.

Clergy then joined together for “Der Voghormya”, beseeching for peace in the world and especially in Syria. The program came to a close with the benediction by the Archbishops.

A reception hosted by St. Mary’s Church Pastors and Board of Trustees followed at “Armenak Der Bedrossian” Hall, during which guests had the opportunity to address their questions to Archbishop Sarkissian.

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